On Tuesday, the new Consumer Protection Bill is expected to lay out proposals making it illegal to pay someone to write or host fake reviews online. The latest research reveals that British consumers want regulations that offer total protection from fake reviews.
Furthermore, 78% of consumers and 81% of businesses call for the same protection as their EU counterparts, which provides more immediate action and ensures robust procedures are in place to prevent fake reviews online.
A $152 billion problem
In 2021, fake online reviews were estimated to cost the UK $2.3 billion and the global economy $152 billion. Moreover, 97% of people read reviews before making a purchase, and the average UK household spends £900 each year after being influenced by online reviews.
Calls for the UK to follow the EU’s clamp-down on reviews
In April, the Government announced proposals to make fake reviews illegal and plans to provide the CMA with increased power to clamp down on the issue. However, ahead of Tuesday’s Queen’s Speech, 78% of consumers and 81% of businesses are calling for the same protection as their EU counterparts, which provides more immediate action and ensures robust procedures are in place to prevent fake reviews online.
On 28th May, an EU directive, dubbed the “New Era for Consumer Rights” will make it illegal for a business to host a fake review on their website. The measures currently go a step further than the UK’s proposals. Businesses within the EU will need to implement stricter processes to ensure published reviews originate from consumers who have purchased products.
The damaging real-life impact of fake reviews
The pandemic fuelled the rise of ecommerce, and online shopping is now set to account for 37.8% of total retail sales in 2022. This means shoppers need to be able to trust the feedback they’re reading. However, Feefo’s data found that over a quarter (27%) of consumers have been misled by a fake review, some potentially resulting in harmful consequences.
A fifth of those asked reported that they bought a product or service that was a hazard to themselves. Similarly, fake reviews have negatively impacted 40% of SME owners, with knock-on effects on their business.
Distrust in the current system
In contrast, people will trust a review if it’s been verified through robust procedures such as only inviting customers who have paid for the product or service, rather than verified email addresses, to leave reviews and labelling them clearly so consumers can quickly identify reviews from real buyers. In fact, two-thirds say their purchasing decisions would be influenced by reading a review if they knew a review platform had properly vetted its origin.
This is reflected in the upcoming EU Directive, as businesses will be required to prove the reviews they are hosting online are verified. An ethical review is verified by a business or reviews platform and only invites a customer to write a review and check its origins before publicly sharing it. This is the clarity UK consumers and businesses are calling on from the Government.